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RoomOrders: A Simple but Powerful Digital Menu and Ordering System

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 days ago

As we transition to a post-COVID world, hospitality businesses of all types are modifying their operations for one big trend: contactless interactions. For food and beverage outlets, software that supports digital menus and online ordering makes contactless interaction easy and intuitive. In fact, this type of software can even increase your average check value and streamline your ordering and delivery processes. If you’ve never used such software before, choosing a mobile ordering platform might be overwhelming. That’s why, in this article, we’ll introduce you to the features of RoomOrders so you can decide whether it would be a good fit for your hotel, restaurant, bar, or other F&B business.   How Does RoomOrders Work? Let’s first take a look at RoomOrders from the customer’s perspective. How would a customer use it at your restaurant, and what does it look like?   Guests Scan a QR Code to Access a Digital Menu on Their Device RoomOrder is a web-based app, so customers or guests don’t need to download an actual app to access your digital menu or place an order. Instead, a customer can click a link in an email or on a webpage, or they can scan a QR code to quickly open the digital menu on their smartphone. Burton Ockerman, the Director of Restaurants at the Desmond by Doubletree in Malvern, says the QR code feature is one of RoomOrders’ best features and is very user-friendly. Once a customer has opened the digital menu, they’ll see your restaurant or hotel’s name, logo, and cover image of your choice. Menu sections are clearly defined, such as Food and Drinks. For establishments with international clientele, the RoomOrders platform supports translation into most of the world’s widely spoken languages.     Similar to what consumers see in popular apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash, RoomOrders shows guests the average delivery time to set expectations.  Hungry guests are more likely to order when they see short delivery times. The digital menu is fully customizable - from headings to badges to photos - which we’ll discuss later in the article. By default, the layout includes space for large photos, which helps to encourage customers to place orders, assuming your photography makes your menu items look extra delicious!   Mobile Ordering Makes Room Service as Easy as Hailing an Uber When a customer is ready to order, they can select a delivery time of either “now” (as soon as possible) or a date and time in the future.     To order an item, the customer simply clicks on the item they want, and a box will pop up with some additional options, which the restaurateur can configure. For example, if the customer orders a steak, they might see options like “rare,” “medium rare,” “medium,” and “well done,” so they can be confident their steak will be cooked to their liking.     After specifying the quantity and adding any special instructions, the customer will click “add to cart.” The bell icon on the top right corner takes customers to their cart, where they will enter their location (either an area of your hotel/restaurant, like the pool or lobby, or a room number), then click “complete order.”   Hoteliers can send RoomOrders a list of all room numbers so the system can validate whether the room number is valid or not. For example, if your hotel has just 8 rooms on each floor, a guest who enters room number “817” will be prompted to correct the room number before the system will let them place an order. But rooms are not the only delivery location a hotel can specify. With RoomOrders’ new beach and pool area concept, guests are able to order anywhere on the premises of the hotel, such as a table at the onsite restaurant, a deckchair or cabana on the beach or at the rooftop pool bar. Simply add location to room number, such as deckchair 12, table 6, section B, thus providing seamless ordering opportunities to the guest, wherever they are. RoomOrders can integrate with point-of-sale systems for payment, but if you don’t have a POS or choose not to integrate, customers can charge the order to their hotel room (which most RoomOrders clients opt for) or pay with cash or credit card (via Stripe, which works with Apple Pay and Google Pay).   What Functionality Can Hoteliers Expect in the RoomOrders Dashboard? The back end of the platform is where you’ll manage operations, configure your menu and settings, and analyze performance. The manager version of RoomOrder is available on your web browser, or you can download a smartphone or tablet app.   Easy to Use Order Management with No Training Required Once a customer places an order, restaurant staff will see it pop up on their Orders dashboard. New orders placed for immediate fulfillment show in “New” status, while orders scheduled for a future date will appear in the “scheduled” section. Staff must click “accept” to confirm new orders. When the order has been delivered to the customer, staff click “complete order” to move it to “Delivered” status. If necessary, staff can cancel orders from this dashboard. The dashboard shows all relevant information about the order, including the items ordered, the guest’s location, and timestamps that show when the order was placed and accepted.     Update Your Menu in Seconds - No Need to Call Tech Support Operators can customize their cover photo, profile photo, and all text content visible on their digital menu. The menu builder is packed with options, so you can create a menu that accurately communicates your brand, menu items, and photography.     You can structure the menu however you want, with flexible headings and sub-sections. A useful feature of RoomOrders is adding time frames to menu sections, which lets you control the availability of menu items that might not be available all day. For example, your breakfast menu can be available between 7am and 10am only. Menus will be visible during their off-hours, but customers cannot place orders for items that are unavailable based on the time frame. Anastasiia Horashchenko of Hilton’s Kyiv property told Hotel Tech Report, “RoomOrders has a very simple backend, which is a great feature for the current ever changing environment. We are able to be more flexible in adjusting to our guests' needs. The frontend that our guests see gives an opportunity to showcase all of our dishes and attract guests with the look of dishes they are about to order.”     It’s also possible to add special badging (the orange tags in the screenshot below) to help some menu items stand out. Badges could include “Chef’s recommendation,” “Vegan,” or “Gluten Free” text, and more.   In addition to menu titles and text, you can configure add-ons and options for each menu item. RoomOrders offers three choices for these add-ons: extras (like adding chicken or salmon to a salad for an extra charge), selection (a choice between wheat and white bread), or ingredients (if a customer wants to request no onions, for example).     Drive More Incremental Revenue By Programming Relevant Upsells Both Ockerman and Anastasiia Horashchenko, Assistant F&B Manager at Hilton Kyiv, say that the cross-sell capability is one of RoomOrders’ most powerful features. This feature allows you to suggest complementary menu items to customers who order certain dishes. For example, if a customer wants to order a pasta dish, you could suggest a glass of red wine or an order of tiramisu. Cross-selling is proven to increase average check value since many customers find the suggestions too good to pass up.     When building the cross-sell options in the RoomOrders dashboard, you choose between using your top selling items as the cross-sell items, or you can customize cross-sell items for specific dishes, like our pasta example above.   Optimize Menu Offerings with Real-Time Reporting How do you know if your average order value is growing if you can’t measure it? RoomOrders offers a slick dashboard that gives operators insight into a few key metrics: total sales, number of accepted orders, average order value, on-time percentage, and completion percentage - all of which can be seen for specific dates. The dashboard also shows a list of your most frequently ordered items, but there’s not much more information about them, like the most popular times of day for orders of certain items. “RoomOrders has been such an easy to use platform for our business especially now, during these unprecedented times. The flexibility of the software has allowed us to make changes and updates to our menu seamlessly”, says Mark Grzelak, Manager of the Fin Point Oyster Bar & Grille at the Hilton Boston Downtown/Faneuil Hall.     RoomOrders lets you choose settings that make the most sense for your restaurant or bar. You can turn the gratuity field on or off, choose the default language, and configure tax categories, for example. Other settings include a post-order review request, which sends a survey to customers to request feedback, which is not shared anywhere publicly. You can also build a prompt that asks customers to share their experiences on Facebook.   RoomOrders is a Great Option for Hotels and Restaurants Looking to Go Beyond QR Code Linked PDF Menus The greatest consumer hospitality brands like Starbucks and Dominos understand the power of mobile ordering as we’ve previously covered - finally hotels are catching up.  Mobile ordering is proven to increase average order values and drive better guest experiences by delivering the level of convenience we all have at home while staying in a hotel. RoomOrders packs a lot of value into a light, user-friendly interface. The contactless interface has tangible benefits for a F&B business of any size. As Jeffrey Speelman, the Director of Operations at the Hilton Kyiv, mentions, the digital menu functionality allows his team to save time and money by not needing to print new paper menus every time they make a change to a dish or a price. Both Speelman and Horashchenko say that RoomOrders has a fantastic support team who help in every step of the onboarding process, so even less tech-savvy operators can feel confident using this new kind of software. Hilton’s Jeff Speelman told Hotel Tech Report, “the Room Orders application has options to push upselling when selecting an item which drives up the average check, as well as highlighting and showing attractive photos of dishes. Besides the fact that the volume of room service orders has significantly increased due to Covid and a price increase of approx 5% was implemented we see a significant increase in our average check.  When comparing our Average check YTD vs previous year we see an increase of 17.9%.” Mobile ordering software is a must-have technology in 2021 for hotels looking to stay ahead of the digital transformation curve and RoomOrders is a great choice for hotels and restaurants that want to deliver a user-friendly, customizable option for guests with a lot of functionality.   This content was created collaboratively by RoomOrders and Hotel Tech Report.

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4 Common Hospitality Tech Stack Pitfalls (and How to Avoid Them)

by
Matthew Lynch
2 weeks ago

In the age of technology, connectivity is critical to property and brand-wide success—and it affects every aspect of rising industry trends around security and mobile payments. To find the right vendors and put the right tech in place, you need the right information. You need to know how the tech you’re looking at is going to integrate with the systems you already have in place. So before anything else, view the tech through the lens of your SOPs. What would a day in the life of your staff look like? Are there significant gaps in functionality or connectivity? If so, it’s a no-go right from the start. If not, it’s time to dig into specifics. Here are four key pitfalls for hoteliers to know and avoid in order to find success:   1. Hotels have more technology than ever—and when systems don’t communicate, the business consequences can be devastating. Between your PMS, POS, and staff collaboration tools, there’s plenty to worry about. Add in guest-facing tech and hotels can suddenly have more different solutions than time to sift through them. And if a single cog in the machine isn’t working in conjunction with other things, it can be a disaster for operations. Before signing up with a new vendor, make sure what they’re offering will integrate with the critical systems your property already uses on a daily basis. Your tech should maximize your staff’s efficiency, not add extra stress or unnecessary steps. To further ensure a quality integration, look for a vendor that builds their integrations directly. A more advanced integration is much more likely to be certified or otherwise validated by others.   2. When operations suffer due to bad integrations and siloed data, the guest experience suffers as well. When systems don’t communicate, information is either duplicated or never shared at all causing guest requests to never get fulfilled or get fulfilled twice. And this isn’t something staff can be expected to handle or track. The reality is, many simpler integrations pass less information which creates a shallow and less efficient system. Make sure you are getting integrations with depth—the more information your systems can share the better. If you want to ensure the vendor you are looking at has effective integration and consistent guest satisfaction, go to the source. Ask to speak to a customer who is currently using the integrations you need. Get your questions answered by someone who can vouch for how things affect the guest experience and day-to-day operations.   3. Security is absolutely essential to connectivity. Here’s what to watch out for on that front.  If a vendor declines a security audit, there’s a reason. A good place to start is by asking if their integrations meet industry standards from organizations like HTNG (Hospitality Technology Next Generation) or OTA (OpenTravel Alliance). Are they directly involved with those industry organizations? And find out if they have regular security audits. No confident vendor declines a security audit. They aren’t easy for anyone, but they’re necessary and they exist for a reason. You need to know if their system is secure. Declining an audit is a huge problem and an indicator a vendor may not be all they say they are. Seasoned vendors will understand that request from the beginning.   4. Payments are among the highest levels of integration to achieve and the thing everyone wants right now. Payments are the most in-demand integration: are the vendors you’re looking at prepared? If a vendor has payments capabilities right now, that’s an indicator they’re advanced and up to speed on the latest developments in hospitality. Ask: Do they process or facilitate mobile payments—namely, do they leverage a PCI-compliant payment gateway that has authorization and settlement capabilities specifically for lodging? If they do, huge green light. If not, a little worrying. Beyond the overall importance of connectivity and how it affects trends like security and payments, buyers should be looking for a trustworthy vendor above all else, and knowing which questions to ask during the buying process plays a key role in determining that. So there you have it: those are some of the red flags you should be watching for—but what are the green flags? If you want to find a vendor partner that goes above and beyond, there are two quick things to check for: a dedicated team for integrations and a product roadmap that demonstrates ongoing commitment to innovation. If a vendor has both of those things, they’re likely not just good at what they do, but great at it. For more in-depth vendor questions, check out 10 Questions to Ask Vendors Before Your Next Purchase.  

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15 Best Online Ordering Systems for Restaurants in 2021

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Online ordering for restaurants will continue to be a major revenue stream in 2021. In part, off-site online ordering can help you grow revenue by tapping new customers and on-site online ordering can help you grow revenue by maximizing revenue from on-premise guests.  Statistics show that Gen Z and Millennials will continue to favor online ordering long after the pandemic is over. If you’re new to online ordering, the number of platforms available to you can be overwhelming. You are likely familiar with food delivery partners UberEats or GrubHub, but there are also ordering systems that allow customers to order directly from a restaurant. In fact, those direct online food ordering tools are a win-win for both you and your customers: you get to keep the full amount from each sale, while most consumers say their preference is to order directly from a restaurant. This guide breaks down the 15 top systems for implementing online ordering at your restaurant. We break down our list into two groups: (1) on-site: these are mobile ordering solutions that can be used to order food and beverage while at a restaurant and (2) off-site: these are solutions that help restaurants take online orders from off-site patrons. From POS-specific tools to user-friendly apps, here are the platforms that can deliver the best ROI from your restaurant’s online delivery, curbside pickup, and takeaway orders in 2021.   What to Look for in a Restaurant Online Ordering System There are really three ways to implement an online ordering system at your restaurant. The first is through your restaurant’s point-of-sale (POS) system. A POS with online ordering added on will do the work of taking orders, routing them to the kitchen, and alerting the front-of-house staff when a customer or delivery person is picking up the order. Look for a POS that makes it easy to set up an ordering page through an e-commerce integration like Shopify. A second option is to see if your POS integrates with a third-party ordering app. Some POS systems won’t have native online ordering software built into the interface, but they can sync with an app for an additional cost. Upserve, Toast, and Square for Restaurants are all examples of restaurant POS systems that can accept online orders. The advantage of using this option is that there is relatively little you need to do to get set up and start accepting orders; you’ll also be able to store customer order information in one unified record, combining transaction details from in-restaurant dining with online ordering records. The last option is to use a marketplace delivery app like UberEats or Door Dash. These apps are specifically created for the restaurant industry, and can therefore be very intuitive to implement and start using. However, watch out for high fees and compatibility issues –– third-party apps can take between 10% - 30% of each sale they deliver. When evaluating which of these options is right for your restaurant, consider these variables:  Cost: third-party ordering apps and marketplace delivery apps sometimes charge a yearly subscription or take a percentage of each sale.  Visibility: third-party apps may cost more, but they offer a way to reach customers who may not know about your restaurant.  Ease-of-use: make sure whatever platform you use is intuitive for your staff and doesn’t lead to a traffic jam in the back-of-house.  Compatibility: does the solution you’re considering integrate with your existing system? Customer loyalty: a marketplace app may give you visibility, but it comes with the disadvantage of not giving you much customer information that can be used in marketing to increase loyalty.  Customer experience: how easy is it for a guest to browse your menu, make a selection, request modifications, and pay? An online ordering system may seem like a big investment, but it’s one that will continue to bring in revenue well beyond the pandemic. By some estimates, restaurant delivery sales could rise an annual average of more than 20% to $365 billion worldwide by 2030. With these factors in mind, here are the ten best online ordering systems for restaurants in 2021.   Best Online Ordering Systems for Restaurants in 2021 (On-Site) Here are our picks for the best POS apps and integrations for hotel restaurants in 2021. These platforms help restaurants facilitate online orders at physical locations - think bars, restaurants, hotel room service, poolside, etc.  As you explore these solutions you may also want to review our in-depth guide to mobile ordering software.   Bbot Smart Ordering Bbot’s online ordering system works for just about any type of food business - take-out, delivery, in-venue dining, catering, and more. The system is fully web-based, and operators can upload, edit, and add branding to their digital menus from the dashboard. Customers can order in-venue or off-premise with a few taps on their smartphones, and payment is processed securely without the need for physical credit cards or paper receipts. Bbot supports NFC payments, ApplePay, GooglePay, and QR codes. The app charges a monthly subscription fee, but businesses can sign up for a free trial before committing.   RoomOrders Designed for hotels and resorts, RoomOrders offers a cloud-based ordering and payment platform that works not only for F&B outlets, but also for pools, golf courses, gift shops, and other vendors. Operators can configure their menus or catalogs on the RoomOrders dashboard for easy viewing and ordering from anywhere - on- or off-premise. Customers or guests on-site can access the menu by scanning a QR code or tapping their smartphones on an NFC tag. RoomOrders charges a $50 monthly fee per venue plus a 1-5% fee per transaction, though transaction fees at additional venues within the same property are a flat 1%.   ServeSafely (by Crave) This online ordering and payment system is suitable for all kinds of F&B venues, from restaurants and bars to concert venues and nightclubs. ServeSafely optimizes revenue and profitability with upsell features, customizable menus, and tools to boost sales of higher-margin menu items. In addition, ServeSafely complies with GDPR marketing permissions so operators can use customer contact information to generate repeat sales and loyalty. Guests can access menus by scanning QR codes, and payment is completely contactless with ApplePay or Google Pay. As a bonus, users say that Crave’s customer support team is helpful and responsive. ServeSafely charges an implementation fee plus a monthly service fee.   SABA F&B Ordering SABA’s web-based ordering app allows guests to browse digital menus and place orders from anywhere. Operators can create menus that are easily editable, contain upsell offers, and support multiple languages. Guests can access the app by scanning a QR code or clicking a link on the property’s website or social media pages, and operators have the option to embed the app on in-room tablets or existing hotel apps. Besides F&B, hoteliers can also configure the app to place minibar orders and housekeeping requests. SABA charges a monthly fee, and a 30-day free trial is available to try before you buy.   Flexkeeping Though it was originally created as a housekeeping system and staff communication platform, Flexkeeping’s software can flex to a variety of needs and situations. The app’s room service module lets hoteliers digitize their in-room dining operations, from ordering to analytics. Hoteliers can create digital menus, configure instant notifications for staff, and see real-time order status. Flexkeeping also gives operators insight into their most popular dishes, order times, and total order volume, and it has integrations with popular property management systems such as Mews. From a guest’s perspective, the ordering process is quick and easy. Flexkeeping offers a 30-day free trial; after the trial, the software comes with a monthly subscription fee.    Best Online Ordering Systems for Restaurants in 2021 (Food Delivery, Off-Site) Clover Online Ordering Clover Online Ordering enables your restaurant to start taking online orders through two options: a Clover-powered web page created for you or the Clover app, or through The The.Ordering.app. Clover does the heavy lifting to get you set up with an online menu, increasing your visibility to customers, firing orders to the kitchen, and sending alerts when an order is ready for pickup. A key benefit to Clover Online Ordering is that it also keeps track of customer information: add reward, promo, and customer feedback programs to reward your loyal fans. The drawback to Clover Online Ordering is that you do need a Clover POS device (Station, Station Pro, Mini, and Flex) connected to a printer. It may not be the best solution if you’re not already using this technology. There are no fees associated with Clover’s ordering services, and Clover is waiving The Ordering.app fee of 1.5% per order is until January 1, 2021.   Chownow Online Ordering Chownow is commission-free, making it a good bet for restaurants looking to maximize revenue for each sale. Chownow is a third-party ordering app that integrates with your POS system and offers many options for capturing online orders. Get a branded mobile app for your restaurant, or give customers the ability to order straight from your website (rather than through a third-party like GrubHub). Integrations with Yelp, Instagram, and Google serve to increase your restaurant’s visibility and boost orders quickly. Chownow charges a flat subscription fee of $99 - $150 per month, depending on which features you use. That can be expensive, but note that Chownow also offers configurations for in-restaurant and curbside pickup, expanding your restaurant’s ability to serve customers with ease.   Toast POS Toast is similar to Clover, in that online ordering is only available through the Toast POS system. That said, Toast is built for restaurants and comes with tons of features to help you save – boosting both revenue and profit margins in the process. The company reports that restaurants save an average of $36,000 per year with Toast Online Ordering. This is due to a wide selection of built-in features, including a loyalty program, the ability to create and accept gift cards, and inventory management for your restaurant – in addition to online ordering. Toast offers a free calculator to help you estimate how much your restaurant could be saving by switching to their online ordering system. Like Chownow, Toast is subscription-based and does not charge a commission per sale. However, you do need to factor in the costs of switching to their POS hardware in addition to software fees.   FreshBytes FreshBytes is designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses – and it offers the same powerful features from which large chain restaurants benefit. “Applauded as one of the simplest and fastest emerging online ordering platforms in the times of COVID-19, FreshBytes offers branded, mobile-friendly, and commission-free services with fully integrated online ordering features — premium website designs, social media ordering, one-touch reordering, print kitchen tickets, consultative onboarding, 24/7 customer support, and smart messaging,” writes one reviewer. FreshBytes also stands out for its focus on the customer experience. Features like menu item photos and one-touch reordering make it extremely user-friendly. It also allows for catering orders, a great feature for hotel restaurants. Pricing starts at $89 per month.   GloriaFood If you’re looking for a holdover solution to offer online ordering only until the pandemic is over, GloriaFood might be the right solution for your restaurant. If you already have a website, and just need an integration to accept orders try GloriaFood. It provides a "See MENU & Order" or "Table reservation" widget to your website to make the online ordering process fast & easy. The best part: the basic system is completely free. Accept unlimited orders for pickup or delivery without paying any commission – nor are there setup fees or hidden costs. You may need to pay for “upgrades” – essential features like accepting credit cards – but overall, this is a low-cost solution that can tide your restaurant over until in-restaurant dining returns.   MenuDrive MenuDrive offers all the basic features of online ordering with a focus on marketing. “MenuDrive is a great option for restaurants that want to create a branded ordering experience on their website. Users are able to customize their POS and online ordering system by sending their menu, product photos, and other branding materials to MenuDrive, who then puts it all together,” says one reviewer.   It not only offers a way to customize your online branding, but automated email campaigns and integrated marketing services help your restaurant build a dedicated customer base. The downside is that MenuDrive can be a little more expensive: the basic plan starts at $99 per month per location along with a $99 one-time setup fee. They also a 3.5% credit card processing fee + 15¢ per transaction.    Upserve Upserve is a nice option if your restaurant is a cafe or coffee kiosk: its restaurant management system has options for bars, wineries, coffee shops and bakeries. Upserve integrates with other online ordering marketplaces, like Postmates, DoorDash, Caviar, and UberEats, giving you the best of both worlds – a fully-branded ordering experience, and the visibility of a third-party delivery partner. This ordering system also gives you analytics so you can track your restaurant’s performance and made adjustments for higher guest satisfaction scores.  Upserve also offers a POS system and plenty of other restaurant management tools. Plans start at $59 per month with $60 per additional terminal.    Square for Restaurants  Like Clover, Square for Restaurants’ online ordering tool requires the use of the Square Terminal and Kitchen Display System (KDS). If you already have those tools, online ordering by Square is streamlined and efficient. No matter through which channel an order comes – Postmates, UberEats, or Chowly – the kitchen receives the order in one easy interface. There are a few options for how you choose to configure the order flow, too. Online ordering is part of Square for Restaurants, which is offered in three pricing tiers. If you already have Square for Restaurants, it’s easy to simply enable delivery services through your dashboard.   The Ordering.App It was only a matter of time before Google started to get involved in restaurant online ordering. The Ordering.App is Google’s online ordering tool. A key benefit of the Ordering.app is that it allows customers to order right from your website, Google Search, Google Maps and more. This gives your restaurant great visibility and reach, and decreases the number of steps a customer has to complete to send an order to your restaurant. It integrates with both Square and Clover, and also comes as an app that you can download straight to your tablet or mobile device. The Ordering.App is affordable: no setup fees or subscription costs, and right now through March 30, 2021 The Ordering.app is waiving its 1.5% per order fee to help support restaurants during the pandemic.   Restolabs Restolabs is another popular option that offers easy setup and 0% commission. A nice feature is Facebook ordering, in which customers browse your menu and use the Restolabs widget to order straight through your social media page. Pricing starts at $45 per month.    For more on restaurant ordering systems, download our free Guide to Mobile Ordering and Room Service Software for 2021.  

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Using Contactless Channels To Enter a New Era of Running a Hotel

by
Sandra Holland
2 months ago

Since the advent of the pandemic, and well before it, contactless channels have garnered tremendous attention as a safe, efficient and effective way for hotels to communicate with their guests. In fact, today around 70% of hotels are already planning to adopt contactless technology for check-in, food ordering, concierge services and more. With its immense potential for the future of hotel operations and its rapid growth in guest preference, it’s no wonder why hoteliers are fast to adopt it. In this article, we’re exploring contactless communication and how it has become a necessary consideration when entering a new era of hospitality.   The State of Hotel Communication Today Over the past 10 years, how hotels interact with their guests has changed greatly. The rise of COVID-19 not only pivoted many communication strategies, but accelerated the pace in which we adopt new digital forms of contact such as apps, social media platforms, and more. As a matter of fact, in a recent survey, consumers highlighted the desire for contactless payments (35%), digital room keys (26%) and digital messaging services (20%) as the top three changes that would make them feel more comfortable staying in a hotel. With the demand for new efficient communication channels progressing, the need for hoteliers to invest and evolve their digital programs becomes critical.   Contactless Channels on The Rise  Within hospitality, apps are undoubtedly one of the most influential contactless channels to adopt. In a Hotel Management 2020 report, 62 percent of respondents said they would prefer to use contactless check in (and out) through a hotel app. In addition 80 percent of respondents said they would download a hotel app that would allow them to check in, check out and get all information about the hotel. With an app, consumers can easily navigate the hotel experience (without face to face contact), whether it be by communicating directly with a staff member or mobile ordering something on-demand. Social media channels also hold a promising role in communication. According to “Statista, in the second quarter of 2018 the total number of social media users was 3.297 billion people worldwide, which corresponds to a penetration rate of 43% in a total market of 4.087 billion internet users.” Social channels have tremendous reach and cater to a wide variety of individuals. Using these channels, you can personalize the experience by getting a glimpse of guest social profiles, leverage automation features and send feedback surveys to better understand your guests. What’s more, social media isn’t segmented by geography, so hotels with greater international guests can utilize these channels to engage worldwide. Lastly, email and SMS will continue to rise in adoption. As two traditional channels that are already leveraged by a wide array of hotels for booking confirmations, itineraries, and post-stay follow ups it’s important to leverage both of these channels, in conjunction with more engaging channels, when communicating with guests.   How Contactless Can Benefit Your Hotel Streamline booking and ordering.  For hotels, contactless channels not only enhance the guest experience but also streamline hotel operations. According to Travel & Tourism Analyst, Ralph Hollister, it’s reported “in 2021, hotels will increase their adoption of technology that will reduce the number of touchpoints. Abilities such as online check-ins and check-outs, mobile keys and room settings controlled by Internet of Things (IoT) technology will become much more commonplace.” In this, administrative tasks such as booking and ordering will become much more streamlined. As an example, if a hotel has an app, dine-in ordering can be done through on-demand navigation. Customers can simply browse the dinner menu, click on their desired order and pay all from their personal device. From an operation standpoint, the whole process is automated, the order goes directly to the kitchen and management has direct access to the data from guest orders. Greater Customer Retention.  As proven through the aforementioned statistics, contactless communication is a growing guest preference that can make or break the experience. By adopting contactless communication, you show your guests that you listen to their opinions and implement their preferences - which can come with a number of benefits. Aside from staying safe, by adopting guest desires, you increase the likelihood of greater satisfaction, improve upsell, encourage greater conversation, and of course, improve retention rates. What’s more, adapting to common preferences ensures you meet new customer demands as well. Insight for improved experiences. Using contactless channels, hotels can obtain insight that can’t be captured with face to face conversations. This can help tailor individual discussions, but also the experience as a whole. By referring back to conversations with guests, you can obtain insights such as: preferred communication channels, trending topics of conversation, busiest times of day, top performing employees, average response time, best performing touchpoints and so on. By utilizing this insight you can adjust experiences in real-time and allocate time and resources to specific areas of your business to ensure a satisfied stay.   Technology Paving the Way  It goes without saying that utilizing contactless channels within your hotel has tremendous benefits for both your guests and your hotel operations. However, managing these channels and gathering data in an effective and efficient manner can be complex, especially without the right technology. For many, utilizing a channel management system, or an automated experience platform can be the turning point for a successful contactless communication strategy. In fact, according to International Hospitality Review’s latest research, “a touchless, adaptable and customizable automation platform featuring all front-office operations and answering particular business requirements could be a solution that the industry needs post-Covid-19.” Having the right technology in place can be a game changer for hotels, whether for managing communication or gathering data. That said, regardless if an added technology is in the cards for your hotel, contactless communication should be a strong consideration. Adding convenience for customers and relieving employees of added work, it’s a massive tool and for entering a new era as a hotelier.   

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The Future of Hotel Apps: Why Mobile Payments Are Essential

by
Dan Lacey
2 months ago

When you look at the future of hospitality tech, it’s very clear that everything revolves around one thing: mobile. Everyone’s on their phone all the time, and that’s not changing anytime soon. Over the last year, features like mobile check-in and mobile key have become more important to hotel apps than anyone could have imagined, both in the context of the pandemic world and the future that lies beyond it. Yet as important as that tech is, there’s another hotel app feature that may eventually become even more important. Contactless payments.    In April 2020, Mastercard released a stunning study based on online interviews of over 17,000 global consumers. They found over 88% of consumers had adopted some form of contactless payment technology—and 74% planned to continue using it post-pandemic. At the same time, mobile purchases went up in nearly every sector, and made up 73% of all e-commerce sales last year. And it’s not just the pandemic. People have also never been more worried about fraud and information security, and mobile payments are simply safer to use than cash or credit cards.    All of this to say...mobile purchases and contactless payments are already a force to be reckoned with and will only gain more traction as time goes on. They represent a new way of life that’s impacting every industry. So, what does that mean for hoteliers? If you’re not prepared to process mobile purchases and contactless payments, you’re missing out on huge revenue potential—something most properties and brands simply can’t afford to do in this rebuilding phase.    That being said, hotels are in a uniquely strong position to embrace mobile payment technology. First, other industries like restaurants and retail have already mastered mobile payments and offer a roadmap to success that hoteliers can follow. But most importantly, all mobile payments and orders should also be processed through the systems you already know and trust—meaning you shouldn’t need to retrain staff or reconcile financials from multiple systems.    That’s because what hoteliers need to harness the revenue-generating potential of mobile isn’t really a new payment technology. Sure, you may eventually want a few new credit card terminals, but for now, guest technology can do the heavy lifting. Guests are asking for a way to check-in and out, order food, and make purchases during their stay from their phone—and on that front, it’s an app provider’s responsibility to work with a property’s PMS and POS vendors to ensure they can facilitate mobile payments, not yours.    What hoteliers need to know about mobile payments can be boiled down to this: they will become one of the single most important mobile app features—if not the most important—within the next few years. And they should add convenience for tech-savvy guests and extra revenue for your property, not more complexity for you. If a vendor tries to tell you differently, that’s a red flag.  

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How to Select the Right Restaurant Ordering System at Your Hotel

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

 Today’s traveler can book their flight, reserve a stay, and even unlock their guest room via apps on their smartphone - but what about ordering a burger at your hotel?  In a recent survey, 47% of travelers say they would be more likely to order room service or dine-in a hotel restaurant if mobile ordering were available. Overall, guest preferences are increasingly shifting towards contactless options, there’s no better time to implement an online ordering system for guests. In fact, 87% of Americans who use food delivery apps say that mobile ordering technology has made their lives easier.  That convenience also translates into direct P&L impact where mobile ordering is proven to boost average order values.  The best part is that the world has gone appless meaning that your guests can place orders directly in your hotel's POS system without ever downloading an ordering app onto their device. Guests anywhere in your hotel’s ecosystem should be able to order with a few clicks whether they’re at the restaurant, pool, in-room, on the beach, or even the golf course. While mobile ordering might seem like a no-brainer, choosing the right restaurant or room service ordering system can be a daunting task. In this article, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to follow as you research and ultimately implement a system that’s best for your unique property. Let’s get started!   Develop an Initial Business Case for Online Orders at Your Hotel or Restaurant Before making changes to your tech stack and SOPs, it’s crucial to ensure all key stakeholders are on the same page. The first step in implementing a mobile ordering system is to actually clarify why - and if - you need one. Set up a discussion with anyone involved in the decision, including not only restaurant managers, servers, and the F&B director, but also representatives from the front office (who will undoubtedly need to answer guest questions about the system), the finance team (who will handle a new billing process), and IT (who will help to implement the system).  “Working more than 100 of the leading hospitality brands like Marriott, Hilton, and Intercontinental we typically find that modern hospitality businesses demand a lightweight solution to sell food and beverage offerings on guests’ own devices.  Operators are looking for app-less solutions that don’t require downloads and they are demanding rapid low-cost rollouts,” says RoomOrders CEO Eugene B. Jones. In this discussion, you’ll want to refine your goal: why do you want a new restaurant ordering? And why now? It’s also worthwhile to discuss the pros and cons of your current technology vendors to get a sense of existing pain points and opportunities for improvement. Want to educate yourself further before speaking with your team members? Check out the 2021 Guide to Mobile Ordering Software.   Set Measurable Goals Prior to Engaging Potential Technology Vendors How will you know if your mobile ordering system is delivering the results you want? Setting measurable goals is one of the most important steps as you explore mobile ordering at your hotel. Your goals should include a specific target and a timeframe in which you want to reach them. For example, is your primary goal to increase average order value? Maybe you set a goal to grow order value by 50% in the next six months. Perhaps you want to decrease room service response time by 80% over the next quarter. Or you might want to boost overall restaurant order volume by the end of the year. According to Mr. Jones, RoomOrders increased in-room dining checks by 40% at the Hilton Boston Downtown and 122% at the Hilton Sydney.  It’s important to set aggressive yet attainable goals based on the success of similar properties.     Gather Data to Understand Your Restaurant KPI's Prior to Mobile Ordering Now that you have your goals, how will you know when you meet them? Before implementing a new system, make sure to gather benchmark data related to the goals you’ve set. If you plan to increase your average order size, then you’ll want to pull a report showing your current average order size - and maybe average order size over the last year or two so you can understand seasonal fluctuations. As you gather this data, create a list of your other software partners (like your PMS or POS) that would require integrations with the new restaurant ordering system. Ideally, data from the restaurant ordering system would flow seamlessly into your existing tech to make reporting a breeze.   Build a Vendor Shortlist of the Best Restaurant Online Ordering Systems Once you’ve established the goals you want to reach and have gotten buy-in from all of the relevant teams, the real research begins. By reading user reviews, case studies, and articles written by industry experts, you can get a good picture of the mobile ordering system landscape. You can also uncover some nuggets of information from your own network; hoteliers who have implemented ordering systems for their own restaurants can be great resources to answer any questions and provide references. “When choosing between vendors you’ll want to test ordering functionality to ensure the best possible user experience for guests.  You’ll also want to compare business models and forecast fees based on various levels of income.  For some hotels, a flat subscription is preferable and others prefer a per-transaction fee to align incentives.  You’ll also want to explore back-office functionality and reporting capabilities to optimize your business mix over time.” said Jean Baptiste Pigeon, a 37-year veteran hotelier, who has led IHG branded properties across Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa, and now advises RoomOrders. As you conduct research, you’ll find that different systems offer some different features and functionality. It’s helpful to create a list of features you want and score them based on importance. With this priority list, you can objectively compare the specs of various systems to determine whether they might be a good fit for your hotel. Features to consider include: Online menu content management system Mobile payments Upselling and add-ons QR code scanning Analytics and real-time reporting PMS and POS integrations Credit cards and online payments Mobile app download required Guest facing ordering experience Kiosk ordering solution add-ons like iPads or Android tablets Ready to start your shortlist? Head to our list of the 10 Best Mobile Ordering Software Vendors.   Participate in Demos and Get Price Quotes Once you've studied up on the category, the best way to determine whether a system is right for your hotel and your needs is to compare different systems. As you narrow down systems of interest, you’ll want to schedule demos and see the software tools in action. During demo sessions, keep an eye out for a few things: User experience: Is the interface user-friendly? Is it easy to learn how to use the system? You certainly don’t want your new restaurant ordering system to make your restaurant service slower.  You'll also want to make sure it's easy for guests to order and checkout on their devices. Data reporting capabilities: What analytical features does the system include? How can you pull reporting that shows your average order value, order volume, response time, and other key metrics? Without reporting, you won’t know if you’re meeting your goals, so this functionality is critical. Ease of updating content: How easily can you change the price, description, or photo associated with a menu item? What about controlling which menu items show in certain timeframes through the day? You’ll want a system that allows for as much flexibility as you need - and makes it easy to perform updates to keep your menus current. Customer service: Where do you go for help? Will you receive a dedicated account manager? Is there a 24/7 support hotline you can call? Or is customer support limited to a ticket queue? Based on your hotel’s needs, you might want to look for systems with more hands-on support. Look for HotelTechReport’s Customer Support Certification badge for confidence that the system offers solid options when you need assistance. At this stage, you’ll also talk about monthly fees to determine which system makes the most sense for your budget. Some systems operate on a monthly subscription model, while others charge a commission (either % of revenue or a flat fee per order). Take the time to model out the pricing for your restaurant over the next year or beyond; how much commission would you pay if you achieve your revenue growth goals? How much would you pay in subscription fees? Knowing how much you’ll pay over time can help you make a future-proof decision. “Our main consideration was the level of commitment and risk involved before we could witness significant improvement in our operations and guest experience,” said Food and Beverage Director at the luxurious Hotel Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I in Barcelona, Angelo Vassallo. “We decided upon a solution [RoomOrders] that offered enterprise software with free implementation, zero investment costs and immediate results, as well as no lock-in contracts.”  Finally, as you close in on that ideal software, make sure to test it out in the wild. Ask for a demo account, then ask real guests to take it for a test drive. By watching guests place orders and listening to their feedback, you can get a sense of the system’s true benefits and costs. Do guests find it confusing? Does the system encounter a glitch? Or is it totally effortless? Even the most feature-packed system can hurt your restaurant’s performance if it’s not truly user-friendly. Ready to start your search for a restaurant ordering system? Check out our list of the 10 best mobile ordering systems for hotels based on verified reviews from your peers.     This content was created collaboratively by RoomOrders and Hotel Tech Report.

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The 9 Most Futuristic High Tech Hotels in the World

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

The pandemic accelerated technological transformation across the hospitality industry. Contactless has become a must-have, fitness centers have gone virtual, guest communications have moved to mobile, and self-service has become standard. While some hotels found themselves rapidly deploying new technologies, other hotels have been playing the tech-long game for years. Here are some of the world’s most notable high-tech hotels. We've covered the tech strategies of great hotel groups like Viceroy and Noble House who implement everything from contactless check-in to digital concierge but this article focuses on some more wacky tech implementations with a bit of focus on form over function.  This list features some pretty cool hi-tech gadgets and hotel room amenities that go above and beyond the typical flat-screen tv.  Some of the cutting-edge technology on this list may off-put more traditional travelers but will undoubtedly hit the spot for tech-savvy millennials. Rather than layer technology onto the operation, these properties embed technology into the fabric of the operation, making it a focal point and key feature. Some use it as an Instagrammable moment at a specific location while others structure their entire brand around the tech-enabled guest experience. Either way, technology is front-and-center at these hotels.   Henn Na Hotel, Japan “The Robot Hotel” Tokyo has become the marquee high-tech hotel. The brand concept is “commitment to evolution,” which appears across its operation in the form of robots. Lots of robots! The brand claims to be the world’s first hotel staffed by robots -- and there’s really no disputing that, as guests are greeted by robots at the front desk. At one property, the front desk is even staffed by dinosaur robots and iPad kiosks, which is quite the experience.     Other high-tech features at some locations include a robot barista frothing lattes, espressos and teas, as well as a 360-degree VR space for guests to immerse themselves in virtual reality experiences. The hotel is also fully enabled with Wifi powered facial recognition, which eliminates the need for a hotel key altogether. Guests can access the property, and their individual guest rooms, seamlessly using biometrics. Very futuristic, indeed!   YOTEL, New York City The YOTEL brand has been synonymous with technology since it opened its doors near  Times Square. The showstopper was a massive robot arm dominating the lobby, providing automated luggage storage for guests (as well as safety deposit boxes to store valuables). The YOBOT also provides self-service check-in, which puts the brand far ahead of today’s contactless guest experience.   The rooms -- called cabins -- may be small, but YOTEL uses technology to deliver its promise to “give you everything you need, and nothing you don’t.” This includes Smart TVs so that guests can connect their own devices and choose their own entertainment. The guest rooms also use motorized beds as space-savers and motion-activated sensors for lighting and AC to reduce carbon emissions. It’s all about efficiency, delivering an outsized guest experience in even the smallest spaces.   Blow Up Hall 5050, Poland The Blow Up Hall 50/50 is an impressive mix of form and function. Designed by BAFTA-award-winning artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, the hotel combines a restaurant, bar, gallery, and hotel into a unique vibe. There are several digital art installations, including a commentary on surveillance capitalism embedded right within the lobby.    The property eliminates the traditional touchstones of the hotel experience: there’s no front desk. The guest’s smartphone provides access to the property, from check-in to room keys to staff communications. The phone also acts as a room finder: after opening the app, the assigned room lights up and the door unlocks automatically. It’s these small tech flourishes that reinforce the property’s sense of mystery and intrigue.   Hotel Zetta, San Francisco At the center of Silicon Valley, the centerpiece of Hotel Zetta is most definitely its virtual reality room in the lobby. Designed by a local tech startup (naturally), the VR cube gives guests a fully-immersive opportunity to experience virtual reality. There are also Nintendo Switch consoles and Oculus VR headsets available so guests can experience next-generation technology in the comfort of their rooms.      Other tech touchstones include a vintage Atari Pong table in the Zetta Suite, which is modernized to include both the classic game and a Bluetooth speaker to play personal playlists. Each guest room is also equipped with Alexa-enabled voice control in every room. Guests can order a meal from room service, set an alarm or learn about on-property dining specials.    Kameha Grand, Zurich The Kameha Grand isn’t one of those kitschy places that you’re embarrassed to stay at. Quite the opposite: the high-end “lifestyle hotel” is part of Marriott’s Autograph collection. And, with rooms designed by Marcel Wenders, it’s got all of the trappings of a luxury property. Rooms     Our favorite rooms are, of course, the Space Suites. It’s the most futuristic room type on this list because it quite literally connects to space. The in-room TV features a live feed from NASA TV so that you can fuel those space dreams. The atmospheric vibes will contribute to that dreamy feel, with “outer space furnishings have been designed down to the smallest detail with a floating bed, pictures of galaxies, hovering astronauts and models of rockets.” Far out!   Virgin Hotels  The Virgin Hotel brand has always been tech-forward and guest-centric. Even prior to the pandemic, the brand empowered guests to control their own experiences right from the palm of their hand. Now, those features are dramatically expanded to be even more contactless.     Named Lucy, the app allows guests to skip check-in, using their phone to select rooms and unlock doors. Guests can also use the app to order room service, adjust room temperature, control entertainment (in-room streaming and Apple Music), plan their trip around the city, or even follow custom exercise routines by Fitbod. Following on smartly with its brand promise, the app also offers three preset lighting modes for guestrooms:  Get Lit for full brightness, Get in the Mood for dimmed relaxation, and Do Not Disturb for sleep. By putting all of these elements together into a single interface, Virgin Hotels puts the guest in control.    25hours Hotels Another brand that’s focused on high-tech without losing high-touch hospitality is 25hours. Thanks to an in-house multidisciplinary think tank, the Extra Hour Lab, the brand experiments with new ways of engaging with guests, both through digital and analog channels. That balance plays out in Cologne, where the record store greets guests alongside    Perhaps that’s one aspect that distinguishes the futuristic, high-tech hotels: those that understand how to inject storytelling into the experience alongside the latest technology.   Cityhub A hybrid between a comfortable hotel and a convivial hostel, Cityhub is futuristic in both its technology and its approach to hospitality. It’s part of a new wave of brands that blend categories and use technology to enable a more social experience. The Cityhub brand has an app but it also takes a cue from Disney and offers RFID wristbands. These bands are used not only for check-in and property access, but also  at the bar, cafe or vending machines, where guests can serve themselves and charge their rooms. Without having to constantly pull out their phones, there’s a more personal element to the experience.     Each “hub” has its own customizable lighting, temperature and audio streaming, so guests can control their vibe. There’s also an on-property social network, giving guests a digital lobby to meet and plan real-world adventures.   The Atari Hotel, Las Vegas (coming soon!) A notable mention is the upcoming Atari Hotel in Las Vegas.  This property will blur the boundaries between hotel and immersive experience, building on Las Vegas’ long history of blending entertainment with hospitality. The experience is straight out of Blade Runner: bright lights, massive marquees, and an “everywhere you look” focus on gaming.    The Atari Hotel points to a far-more futuristic vision of hotels than anything else on the market today. It very well could be the first hospitality experience built just as much for the virtual world as for the physical one. Guests can host friends in their rooms for gaming marathons, with consoles, batteries, and spare controllers available for delivery. The Atari Hotel may redefine the category and establish a new mainstream travel trend: the gamer circuit. -- What are your favorite high-tech hotel amenities? Let us know if we missed any key ones like hotels with crazy underwater speakers, air conditioning activated by motion sensors, cool touchscreen applications, and more!

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3 Ways to Increase Guest Confidence and Rebuild Travel in 2021

by
Alison Guillot
4 months ago

Will 2021 see the return of travel? As vaccinated populations grow, many international governments are looking to energize the travel industry with discussions around “vaccine passport” programs and the reopening of borders ahead of the all-important summer tourist season. As the year progresses, will there be a significant spike in demand for flights and hotels? And in which markets? Will road trips and outdoor destinations continue to be popular to accommodate social distancing or are travelers setting their sights on more exotic locales?  It’s important for hoteliers to prepare for a few different scenarios this year based on consumer confidence levels. To best capture available demand and ease travel-related concerns, hoteliers will want to focus on providing guests a clean, welcoming environment.    Meet the Expectations of “Generation Clean”  Cleanliness will remain a top priority for travelers this year and will weigh heavily in their decision to book accommodations. In a recent traveler survey, 2 out of 3 people say COVID-19 prevention measures are very important to know before they book, while only 25% say price is the key driver behind selecting their next destination.   That means the “Generation Clean” traveler is prioritizing health and sanitization in booking decisions and wants to feel the property is doing enough to ensure their safety.  As a hotelier, make sure to communicate the cleanliness standards and protocols your property has put in place. Add these details to your website and booking engine to make the property more attractive to shoppers. Pre-arrival emails that highlight specific safeguards your property is implementing, and what type of experience guests can expect onsite will be welcome and appreciated.    Provide Stress-Free Contactless Experiences   Expectations for contactless experiences such as keyless entry, mobile check-in/out, and automated service requests were already on the rise before COVID-19. Current social distancing guidelines have accelerated the adoption of contactless technology and digital experiences.  Contactless experiences not only drive convenience, but 62% of guests prefer to check-in and out through a hotel app. The introduction of these digital touchpoints can also provide hoteliers with opportunities to drive ancillary revenue and collect more actionable data to deliver memorable experiences. For example, if you know your guest has checked into their room via the property’s mobile app, perhaps consider sending them a text message or push notification to see if they’d like to order contactless room service.   These digital interactions are a welcome addition to travelers’ experiences and lets them know you are still offering attentive service, even though your staff is not immediately visible.     Personalize Each Step of the Guest’s Journey Hoteliers are discovering that loyalty is evolving beyond point-based reward programs to entice repeat bookings. COVID-19 has advanced the pace of technology adoption to build better guest experiences. With low room rates in abundance and high uncertainty around travel guidelines, non-price factors such as trust and the ability to deliver safe and memorable experiences are increasingly driving booking behavior. In fact, 79% of consumers say they are more loyal to brands with higher levels of personalization.  Every pre-trip questionnaire, email, digital service request, or mobile purchase is a building block for a personalized experience. But hoteliers need integrated systems to make true personalization a reality. By leveraging centralized data across your technology stack, hoteliers can convert guest preferences and profile details into actionable information for service delivery staff. After all, a personalized experience is a differentiated experience that can ultimately earn you a lifelong customer.    In a world where travel is evolving rapidly, some consumer expectations and behaviors are sure to become standards. Hoteliers need to take bold action to embrace these changes and elevated expectations for cleanliness, contactless experiences, and increased personalization. By focusing on integrated technology to deliver these priorities, hoteliers will ultimately drive more demand for their business and deepen their connection with guests.  

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5 Lessons from Hospitality Brands that Crushed Mobile Ordering During the Pandemic

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

It seems like you can order anything with a few taps on your phone these days: a ride from Lyft, groceries from the local supermarket, and those things you didn’t know you needed from Amazon. Hospitality businesses like restaurants and hotels are quickly jumping on the mobile ordering bandwagon, a trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic. An estimated 70% of Americans now use food delivery apps, and 87% say mobile ordering has made their lives easier. Many restaurateurs also have found that their revenue and average order size grew after implementing mobile ordering and by taking advantage of partnerships with rapidly growing apps and delivery services like Postmates, UberEats, and DoorDash. What can you learn from hotel chains like Hilton and dining establishments like McDonald’s and Starbucks that have strategically adopted mobile ordering? These brands have figured out how to streamline the ordering process, increase average order value, drive brand loyalty, and more. In this article, we’ll share their secrets to mobile ordering success so that you can find opportunities to push your own ordering technology toward the future.   Lesson #1: Hilton Properties Understand that Mobile Ordering is the Key to Improving Average Order Value Many hotels still place paper room service menus in their guestrooms and accept room service orders over the phone. For tech-savvy guests, that ordering process can feel as out-dated and clunky as pulling out an atlas instead of opening your Google Maps app. In an effort to boost room service revenue and operating efficiency, the Hilton Boston Downtown partnered with mobile ordering app RoomOrders. With the app in use, the hotel could eliminate those in-room menus and realize a slew of benefits, although it did take a few days to set up the app, input menu details, and take photographs of the menu items. Within a few months, the hotel increased its order value by 30%, reduced the rate of order errors, and delivered an overall better guest experience. And, most importantly, the data provided by RoomOrders helped the Hilton Boston Downtown measure exactly what results mobile ordering delivered.     Lesson #2: Don’t Build Your Ordering App in House - Just Ask McDonalds It can be tempting to want to build your own custom ordering system in-house, but even major brands have grappled with operational challenges as a result of developing their own tech. In most cases, the better option is to work with an expert who can share a wealth of experience in the mobile ordering space. Though McDonald’s is known as a leader in efficiency, the restaurant chain should have realized its core competencies lie in cooking - not coding. Instead of incorporating an existing mobile ordering app, McDonald’s developed their own, and it led to chaos at their restaurants. As the app rolled out in 2016, employees were required to handle more tasks and adjust to a new service flow, which increased the average wait time. Some employees decided to quit rather than take on more work for the same pay. If McDonald’s had collaborated with a company that specializes in mobile ordering, the rollout could have enhanced the guest experience (and employee morale!) instead of hurt it.     Lesson #3: Dominos Used Mobile Ordering to Grow Loyalty (and their Competitive Moat) In a mobile ordering landscape dominated by a few big names  - UberEats, Doordash, and the like - Domino’s has doubled down on its efforts to build guest loyalty through its Piece of the Pie program. A key reason for restaurants to encourage customer participation in loyalty programs is to gather their data, like their name, order history, and preferences; a restaurant receives very little information about a customer who orders through a third-party app. All of Domino’s mobile orders go through their own platform, rather than third-parties like UberEats, giving them a competitive advantage over other restaurants that rely heavily on such channels. It’s easy to understand why customers would choose Domino’s mobile ordering app over a third-party; Domino’s has launched AI-powered forecasting and GPS driver tracking so customers get updates on their order with 95% accuracy. Customers can even order with voice technology through their Amazon Echo or Google Home. Plus, the Piece of the Pie loyalty program lets customers earn points on every order and redeem points for free pizza. What could be better than that?     Lesson #4: Starbucks Case Study Shows that Mobile Ordering Brings in New Customers If you feel the urge to return to Starbucks again and again, it’s probably not just because of the coffee. Starbucks’ mobile app hooks customers with its user-friendly interface, and the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program allows customers to collect stars that they can redeem for freebies. When placing a mobile order, Starbucks customers can completely customize their beverages, from the temperature to the number of pumps of flavor syrup. The app can remember your preferences and favorite orders, so each order feels personalized. Since the mobile ordering at Starbucks launched in 2016, the company has worked out the kinks and eliminated bottlenecks so the mobile ordering process is nearly seamless today. As a result of Starbucks’ investment in their mobile ordering system, almost 25% of their orders in Q4 2020 were placed on mobile. And overall order volume continues to grow: "Almost all of our same-store sales growth is from those customers that we have digital relationships with and those that are in our Starbucks Rewards program," Starbucks CFO Scott Maw said at a JPMorgan forum in March 2018.     Lesson #5: Chick-Fil-A Uses Mobile Ordering to Surprise & Delight If mobile ordering seems like a necessary evil in today’s hospitality world, Chick-Fil-A proves that mobile ordering can actually enhance the service experience. Rather than simply an order-placing method, Chick-Fil-A uses mobile ordering to surprise and delight their customers. The Atlanta-based company hired an alum of Google and Facebook to head their Digital Experience efforts, and in June 2016 the Chick-Fil-A app launched. To celebrate the milestone, everyone who downloaded the app received a voucher for a free sandwich. The freebies continue even though the app is no longer so new and novel. In addition to earning points that can be redeemed for free food, Chick-Fil-A’s app surprises customers with unexpected freebies. It’s the digital equivalent of comping a customer to thank them for their patronage, a practice that Chick-Fil-A didn’t want to lose in the era of smartphones.     Want to know more about mobile ordering in the hospitality industry? Ask via live chat or reach out to firms like RoomOrders who are experts in the space and have already perfected the technology or download the free Official 2021 Guide to Mobile Ordering Software for Hotels.   This content was created collaboratively by RoomOrders and Hotel Tech Report.  

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The 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech 2021

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 months ago

Each year Hotel Tech Report surveys thousands of industry insiders to find the best hotel tech jobs and employers globally. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the hotel industry.  The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that 121 million of the 330 million jobs tied to tourism around the world will be lost in 2020.  Despite existential challenges, hotels and their vendors have proven resilient in the face of the biggest challenge ever posed to the hospitality industry by working together. But there’s always opportunity in crisis.  The pandemic has advanced digitization in the global economy by at least 5 years according to most experts.  Hotels that already had adopted technology like contactless check-in and guest messaging software have had a massive advantage since the pandemic broke out and the importance of technology for running a successful hotel business will continue to rise over the coming years meaning that demand for hotel technology talent will grow with it. Here at Hotel Tech Report, we’ve interviewed countless hoteliers about their journeys from being hoteliers into lucrative technology careers like Del Ross, Marco Benvenuti, Sameer Umar, and Kevin Brown. For hoteliers furloughed on the sidelines, there is an unprecedented opportunity to pivot into a technology career leveraging skills and knowledge from hospitality experience.   But which hotel tech companies should you apply to? Every year we do the hard work for you and survey thousands of hotel tech professionals to find the best companies to work for in the hospitality industry. We ask respondents to rate their employers from 1-10 on these key variables:  Work-life balance Personal development opportunities Gender equality Confidence in company direction Values alignment 2021 Bonus Question: Rate your firm’s COVD-19 crisis response Hotel Tech Report creates this list each year for two reasons: (1) to help industry professionals find the best hospitality tech jobs and (2) to help hotel tech buyers understand that it’s just as important to partner with great organizations as it is to find great software tools and products. Vendor culture is important to every aspect of a vendor relationship: Product: Great workplaces attract the best talent who make the best products Customer Support: Happy client reps give better service and stay around longer developing deeper relationships. Sales: When a sales team has high turnover, innovation gets strangled because there isn’t enough cash coming in the door to invest in innovation. Our 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech list features companies who foster wonderful work environments for employees.  In return, those employees deliver incredible products and services to clients. Without further adieu here are 2021’s 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech…     10. Siteminder (TIE) Right before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, industry leader Siteminder reached an incredible milestone earning itself unicorn status.  Under the stewardship of CEO Sankar Narayan the firm quickly composed itself when the pandemic broke out and began rolling out initiatives to support both employees and customers like its World Hotel Index sharing real-time data with the industry when historical data just wouldn’t cut it.  Siteminder has an internal slack channel called #stayingsocial dedicated strictly to team members having a social communal space in the age of remote work.  This is pretty typical for a small startup but much rarer in the world of 700 employee behemoths.  The great part about working at a large startup-like Siteminder is that there’s almost limitless upward mobility according to one employee working in operations at the firm, “They allow me opportunities to take on more responsibilities that are even beyond my scope to develop my skills and prep me up for bigger roles. They also give leadership training to enhance to continue developing my capabilities.”  If you’re looking for a fast-paced global startup on a world domination path - then you should absolutely be dropping a resume at Siteminder.  The best part is that they’ve got offices all around the world so even if you prefer the WFH life your colleagues shouldn’t be too far away no matter where you call home.     10. Atomize (TIE) This is Atomize’s first time making Hotel Tech Report’s annual Best Places to Work list but we doubt it will be their last.  In true Swedish fashion Atomize rates amongst the highest on the list for gender equality with a 50% ratio of men to women on its leadership team.  Atomize also rates very highly for culture alignment with a score of 97.8%.  Perhaps the biggest standout for Atomize was how highly employees rated the firm’s COVID-19 response and support for clients during a crisis.  “Everyone from finance to product development has chipped in to try to support clients. We have for instance developed a relief-program for those that are hurting really bad, we have updated the product to amend for the large drop in occupancy for hotels, etc,” one Atomize executive told Hotel Tech Report.  Atomize made it through COVID-19 without a single layoff which is a testament to the longevity of the business and its and commitment to team members.  During the crisis Atomize stayed calm, launched the 2.0 version of their core RMS product, and even found time to bring the team together for a BBQ this summer during a slow down in transmission rates.     9. Hotel Effectiveness Georgia (the U.S. state not the country) based Hotel Effectiveness is in the business of helping hotel owners more efficiently manage labor but the question is: how well do they manage their own labor? It turns out they do a pretty darned good job at fostering internal culture.  Prior to the pandemic labor costs were the biggest focus area for most hotel ownership and management groups - despite the shift in focus Hotel Effectiveness managed to grow through the pandemic all while placing a heavy emphasis on quality of life for employees.  Team members cite a high percentage of employees being groomed from junior roles into leadership positions, flexible PTO programs, and strong opportunities for women.  PTO is great but Hotel Effectiveness management goes one step further where they encourage team members to completely unplug and not even check email during their vacation.  Adding icing to the cake, employees raved about the firm’s response to COVID-19 where it was able to grow without any layoffs needed.  One engineer raved about the Company’s COVID-19 response, “Hotel Effectiveness immediately shifted priorities specifically to address the changing needs of our clients. Hotel Effectiveness provided new guidance materials, payment options, and built new features (such as Daily Wellness Check-In) under tight deadlines to meet the new needs of our customers.”     8. EasyWay Big congrats to the first-ever Israeli startup to make this list!  If you’ve ever been to Tel Aviv or the Start-up Nation (Israel), perhaps a job interview with EasyWay is the excuse you needed to visit one of the most amazing cities in the world packed with beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a foodie scene that’s truly in a league of its own.  EasyWay is the quintessential startup with a mentality that so long as you hit your KPIs - the rest of your life is totally flexible.  An EasyWay executive’s quote to Hotel Tech Report about the last 12-months at the company says it all, “The work around the clock in the COVID-19 time was crazy.  We have developed so much stuff, that I almost miss this period. We've learned a lot from that, and staid on our feet! The rest of the team was great and it really gave me confidence in my own abilities.  If you're the kind of person who likes to work hard and play hard - you’d be wise to check out EasyWay’s open positions.      7. Asksuite This is Asksuite’s second year making the list and true to their commercial team’s motto “rockets don’t have reverse”, even a pandemic couldn’t slow down this high flying Brazilian startup.  Florianopolis may not be a hotel tech hub (yet) but the Asksuite team has access to lessons in language, hospitality and other training to upskill their way into global domination.  During the pandemic, leaders have made themselves available for 1:1 meetings to support all colleagues and perhaps it’s this close communication that leads Asksuite employees to rate 98% confidence in the future success of the firm.  Asksuite employees frequently cite an onboarding process that makes all team members feel like a part of the family in short order.     6. RoomRaccoon Despite the pandemic RoomRaccoon doubled the firm’s headcount in 2020 and achieved a major milestone in reaching 1,000 clients.  Employees frequently cite similar aspects of the culture as differentiators like their annual international week at the Netherlands headquarters and an inclusive onboarding program.  One employee within the marketing department told Hotel Tech Report, “This year RoomRaccoon decided to start hiring more new colleagues against the market trend of furlough and letting people go. To smoothen the onboarding process of our new hires we've created an E-learning program and two intensive onboarding weeks. So far we've onboarded 15 new hires since July 2020 that immediately are getting results. Something I'm really proud of!”  If you’re looking for an ambitious organization with a strong remote culture and complementary annual trips to the Netherlands - don’t hesitate and check out open listings at RoomRaccoon.     5. Alliants The Alliants story is the cure to the common venture funded business gone wrong story.  Alliants built the business developing custom software for ultra luxury hotel brands like Four Season and Jumeirah before ever dipping their toes into the SaaS world.  That means they’ve got killer products, an eye for design and engineering to back it up.  Starting in a consultative role for luxury brands has afforded Alliants a luxury not many early stage SaaS products have - cash flow.  How would this impact you when you apply for a role there?  Alliants employees are given a $5,000 stipend to invest in their own education and training.  Whether it’s a paid marketing course or intro to Ruby on Rails - at Alliants you will be able to create your own journey and take control of your destiny.  Have you ever had a boss block your calendar so people can’t book meetings with you? Well, Alliants employees have.  During winter months with less daylight, CEO Tristan Gadsby blocked the entire team’s calendars from 11:30am - 1:30pm to encourage team members to get outside, walk or simply catch some rays.  If that doesn’t sell you I don’t know what will.     4. ALICE This ain’t ALICE’s first rodeo, well it’s their fourth if we want to be precise about it.  ALICE has made Hotel Tech Report’s Best Places to Work list 4 years in a row (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021).  ALICE is an incredible place to work for former hoteliers because employees truly act as a strategic extension of their partner properties.  During the pandemic, ALICE quickly pivoted to rollout closure checklists and other free assets to help partners quickly reconfigure their operations for the new normal.  “The most memorable achievement while working at ALICE this past year was being able to provide support for our employees during the pandemic. The pandemic-related fatigue and anxiety impacted everyone and in different ways. We were able to provide support to our employees through group therapy sessions, health and wellness initiatives, increased one-on-one check-ins regarding fatigue, increased opportunities for learning and connection with one another virtually. I am so proud of how the leadership at ALICE has led us through the most difficult time in our industry's history, and with such care for both our customers, our industry as a whole, and our employees,” says one ALICE team member in an HR role.  Just as important as supporting clients through COVID-19 is supporting colleagues.  ALICE team members were constantly comforted that management understood the stress and challenges they were facing during this historic yet tragic year, encouraging an environment of transparency and honesty about how to cope with natural distractions from work in times of stress.     3. hotelkit Austria-based hotelkit is another repeat visitor on this list moving up from 4th to 3rd place.  Founded in 2012 by hotelier Marius Donhauser, hotelkit is a majority female-run business that’s growing rapidly but responsibly throughout Europe.  hotelkit’s team motto is “one team one dream” and while the team had to work remotely for a good portion of the year, colleagues are hopeful that 2021 will bring back the annual hotelkit Christmas party famous for great eats and poker.  Under Marius’ leadership, hotelkit has fostered a culture that feels like family so it’s no wonder that employees rate the culture so highly across every single vector.     2. Cloudbeds Cloudbeds may be the fastest-growing hotel tech company right now so while their headquarters are in sunny San Diego the Company has got Silicon Valley energy pumping through its veins.  Not to mention, Cloudbeds is extremely global with local managers in 40 countries. On March 11th (yes that’s right when COVID-19 took the world by storm) Cloudbeds announced the closing of an $80M funding round.  Cloudbeds employees tend to share two main things in common: (1) they are extremely performance-driven and (2) they LOVE to travel. One Cloudbeds employee within the operations department told Hotel Tech Report, “I managed to get promoted on my 1 anniversary day at Cloudbeds, I was so happy and everyone was so attentive to me during this process. Cloudbeds is an amazing company, full of amazing individuals, it's so nice to see the owners in our calls and engaged with us all at all times. I used to think I had worked at good companies, till I met Cloudbeds. This is where I want to stay and grow. It will be hard for any other company to take me from here.”  Cloudbeds has TONS of openings so make sure to browse their career page if you’re in the market.     1. Mews This is Mews’ 3rd year making the list ranking #2 in 2019 and #3 in 2020 - but this is their first year topping the list which is a testament to the strong culture at the firm.  Like most fast-growing companies, the pandemic wreaked havoc on projections and business plans for Mews leading to some difficult decisions needing to be made.  Mews not only came through what was maybe the darkest moment in the history of the hotel industry but came out stronger than ever before.  Mews leadership set a strong course for the business cutting expenses, reorganizing the team, rebranding, focusing on remote deployments, and even making an acquisition.  Quite a busy year - even if things had been normal.  Mews management has created one of those infectious startup cultures that can almost feel cult-like at times often intoxicating entire trade show floors (pre-COVID).  It’s not often that employees at an aggressive high-performance tier 1 venture-backed business get to see their founder dancing through a town hall (affectionately named Mews Con) in a silly costume.  Mews pivoted from hyper-growth mode into a sharp focus on profitability right-sizing the business and is poised to come out of the pandemic far stronger than it went in.  Lots of open roles to check out and we’re sure that list will continue to grow over the coming months.